Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: A Matchmaker in Middlebury (novella)


A Matchmaker in Middlebury (Novella)
By Anita Higman
Sequel to A Marriage in Middlebury
The Sunnyside Press, 2014


Summary

Meredith Steinberg takes the stage again in A Matchmaker in Middlebury and is given another chance to dance with destiny and meddle in the romantic affairs of two lovelorn singles. But Meredith’s skills as a yenta are stretched to the limit as she discovers that her golden egg-of-a-plan has a perilous crack. In the end, however, heartstrings are indeed knotted together as two singles find tender love—they’re just not the two people Meredith paired for marital bliss…


My thoughts

I love how authors often publish a short story or novella in order to further develop a character from a previous book, and Anita has done a beautiful job with that in A Matchmaker in Middlebury. This short story can stand alone, but it is a great follow-up to the full-length novel, A Marriage in Middlebury, which I loved (see my review here).

We return to the fictional Gulf Coast town of Middlebury, Texas, a quaint small town filled with sweet and sometimes quirky characters. Meredith, owner of the antique store Somewhere in Time, now steps into the spotlight with these beginning words:  "Boredom is one of the most perilous nouns on earth, Meredith's mother had always said. Why? Because each time Meredith Steinberg got bored - things happened. Good things and sometimes bad things."

A Matchmaker in Middlebury is a romantic comedy, and while I've always enjoyed the romance in Anita's books, she can now add humor to her list of writing skills. I suspect that, like me, most readers will have a smile on their face the whole time. Starting out with the best of intentions and plans well thought out, Meredith quickly learns that matchmaking is indeed a risky business and that plans can swiftly go awry. And one of my favorite parts was being reunited with Charlotte and Sam at their Austen-themed party.

Anita has a gift for making her characters so relatable and real. Bernard is a sympathetic character that I cared for, and I love being reminded of God's grace through Meredith's words to him:  "None of us are worthy of anything, but God sees fit to love us anyway - lavishly, unconditionally, and foreverly."

A Matchmaker in Middlebury is a short novella, approximately 50 pages in length, and can be purchased online at Amazon for only 99 cents. Highly recommended to fans of romantic comedy, and especially those who have read Anita's previous story, A Marriage in Middlebury.



Anita Higman

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has forty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Meet Anita online at anitahigman.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Death Takes a Ride


Death Takes a Ride
By Lorena McCourtney
Cate Kinkaid Files, #3
Revell, 2014


Summary

It's official. This case is above her pay grade--and Cate's in over her head.

Cate Kinkaid arrives at H&B Vintage Auto Restorations to give a friend a ride. But, as usual, trouble finds Cate even there--this time in the form of one dead man, one wounded man, and what appears to be a pretty obvious case of self-defense.

Despite having been merely an unfortunate bystander, Cate finds herself sucked into the case. And the deeper she gets, the more she begins to suspect that the shooting in the H&B office may not have been as cut-and-dried as it appeared.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lorena McCourtney takes you on wild ride in this clever cozy mystery that will keep you guessing.


My thoughts

As an avid fan of cozy mysteries, I love seeing one of this quality in the Christian fiction genre. Death Takes a Ride is well plotted, extremely well written, and contains some of the funniest scenes I have ever read. My reading experience was pure pleasure, thanks to Lorena McCourtney's storytelling ability and humor. While this is book #3 in the Cate Kinkaid Files, it easily stands alone; however, I look forward to reading the previous two stories soon.

This story is set in Eugene, Oregon, home of Belmont Investigations. I dearly love Cate, an assistant PI to her uncle, and Mitch, Cate's boyfriend and computer genius. Their romance is a sweet part of the story. And then there's Octavia, Cate's cat with a talent for detecting, and the most adorable dog named Clancy. Watching Mitch's growing attachment to Clancy just goes to show how quickly a pet can steal your heart. And I've just got to say that the scene describing a late-night motorcycle ride is laugh-out-loud funny and totally unforgettable.

Death Takes a Ride contains plenty of suspects, plot twists, and red herrings. Even when I can figure out the murder's identity, I just enjoy seeing how everything unfolds - but in this story, I was kept guessing. I also enjoyed how the spiritual element is the backbone of the story - Cate and Mitch have a strong faith, trust God to lead, are active in church, and pray.

I greatly enjoyed Death Takes a Ride and recommend it to all who enjoy mysteries with a humorous touch.

Murder Takes a Ride can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N, and Amazon


Lorena McCourtney

Lorena McCourtney is a long-time resident of Southern Oregon and enjoys using Oregon settings in her books. She wrote numerous short stories for children before moving on to romances and now to mysteries, often with a bit of humor. She won the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Mystery “Book of the Year” and twice won the Daphne Du Maurier Award of Excellence.

Meet Lorena online at lorenamccourtney.com and Facebook.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Revealing by @SuzanneWFisher | Enter to win 1 of 3 iPads and LOTS of books!

The Revealing, which concludes The Inn at Eagle Hill series, is a wonderful book, highly recommended! Please see my review at http://tinyurl.com/ohml72l. Don't miss this great giveaway, ending 7/20! Click on the email/Facebook icons toward the bottom of this post to enter . . .

In The Revealing, the riveting conclusion to the Inn at Eagle Hill series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher pulls out all the stops with a fast-paced tale of deception, revelation, and just the right dose of romance.

Suzanne is celebrating by giving away THREE iPads!


revealing-400-click


THREE grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Inn at Eagle Hill series (The Letters, The Calling, and The Revealing) by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Five second place winners will receive:
  • The Inn at Eagle Hill series (The Letters, The Calling, and The Revealing) by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 20th. All winners will be announced July 21st at Suzanne's blog. AND ... if you're looking for more in the Inn at Eagle Hill series, be sure to pick up the ebook novella, The Rescue, for just $1.99!


 
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
Suzanne is also giving away two 10-book mystery prize packs! 

One of the major themes of The Revealing is learning to trust your intuition and instincts. These are God-given qualities that we sometimes are too timid or unsure of to act on. For a chance to win one of the 10-book prize packs, leave a comment on this blog and share about a time when your intuition or instinct saved the day—or a time you ignored it and missed an opportunity. 

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 21st to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Love Comes Home


Love Comes Home
By Ann H. Gabhart
Rosey Corner, #3
Revell, 2014


Summary

When the flush of victory fades, there remains a winding road to an uncertain future.

World War II is finally over and the people of Rosey Corner are joyfully welcoming the boys home. The Merritt sisters in particular are looking toward the future. Kate is eager to start a family and live out her dream of happily ever after with Jay. Evangeline craves a beautiful house and encourages Mike to pastor a big-town church. Victoria wants what can never be. And Lorena is growing up and wondering more and more about her birth family.

Each sister must learn to hold her plans with a loose hand, trusting that God will guide and strengthen them as they share the joys and sorrows of life in their little corner of the world.

Award-winning and bestselling author Ann Gabhart invites you back to Rosey Corner for a heartfelt story that closes the distance between the things that were and things that can yet be.


My thoughts

Warm, poignant, real, bittersweet, heartwarming, triumphant . . .

To put it quite simply, I loved everything about this story - the setting, richness of characterization, spiritual inspiration, and the emotional struggle to adapt and find one's place when you're not the same as before. It's an easy, relaxed read, but with such excellent writing, storylines and emotional impact that I never wanted to put it down.

Love Comes Home is a beautiful story of a close community and a loving family dealing with changes that life has dealt them. Set in the small town of Rosey Corner, Kentucky, shortly after World War II ends, this is book #3 in Ann H. Gabhart's Rosey Corner series. Although it can stand alone, reading the series consecutively will greatly enhance understanding and enjoyment. Book #1 is Angel Sister and #2 is Small Town Girl.

"The news was good. The news was wonderful."

Love Comes Home opens with these comforting words that give cause for rejoicing and celebration. Japan had surrendered and the boys were coming home - but not all. And those that did faced an uncertain future, as well as their loved ones. Rather than focusing on a couple of characters, Ann gives us a wonderful ensemble cast, and I can't remember when I've been so heavily invested in fictional characters.

The story revolves around the Merritt sisters - Kate, Tori, and Evie - and their young adopted sister, Birdie. Kate has always been a fixer, wanting to make everyone happy. Evie, who liked typing and organizing things, wanted a career. And Tori, grieving over the loss of her husband, wanted to shut out the world. But it was Lorena who stole my heart, with her love for family and especially Fern, and her passion for singing.

There are so many spiritual themes that I could relate to, and believe other readers will as well. Tori's character speaks of discouragement in prayer:  "She'd grown up believing the Lord was watching over her. That if she did what she was supposed to, he'd shower blessings down on her. Ask and it shall be given. But then she'd asked and it hadn't been given. Sammy had been taken."

Evie's husband, Mike, speaks of a questioning faith:  "He wasn't the same Mike who'd always had a ready answer or prayer for problems before he went to war." Jay and Kate speak of lack of communication in marriage:  "They seemed to be stepping back into their own shadowy corners where neither one of them was willing to reveal what they were thinking."

____________________

"Prayer don't change what can't be changed." -Fern
"Then why pray?" -Kate
"To endure what has to be endured."

____________________

Aunt Hattie and Fern were favorites of mine. Aunt Hattie - grandmother, aunt, preacher, teacher all tied up in one, who could call down the Spirit when she prayed. And Fern, who sees things others don't want to see, or are too blind to see.

One of the most touching parts of this story was Lorena's nightly ritual of repeating her name, "Lorena Birdsong" - so as not to forget who she was, but also in a prayerful attitude of giving herself over to God. I couldn't help but be reminded of the lovely chorus:  "He knows my name, He knows my every thought; He sees each tear that falls and hears me when I call."

Love Comes Home is historical romance at its best, with characters who will long stay with me. Highly recommended.

Love Comes Home can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N, and Amazon.


Ann H. Gabhart

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Words Spoken True, as well as several Shaker novels--The OutsiderThe BelieverThe SeekerThe Blessed, and The Gifted--and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky.

Meet Ann online at annhgabhart.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Author Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Meg Moseley


Today I am delighted to welcome Meg Moseley, who has become one of my favorite authors. Meg's stories capture the essence of the South and there's almost a magical quality to her writing, especially when she sets her story in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southern Appalachia. Meg also has a sincere love for the southern area she writes about, and that's something to which I can totally relate!

As we get to know a little about Meg today, she'll tell us about her current release, A Stillness of Chimes (reviewed here) - a book that I highly recommend. The title itself is compelling and sets a mood, an atmosphere, almost foreshadowing with these words:  "There was no sound but the wind in the trees and the chimes. Then the wind stilled. Everything was hushed, as if the whole world waited for something to happen."

Meg is graciously sharing a copy of A Stillness of Chimes with one of you, details at the end of this post. Now enjoy hearing from Meg . . .


Q:  Meg, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

As long as I can remember, I have been addicted to books. I especially love good contemporary fiction. Although I didn’t get serious about writing until I was in my forties, now I can’t imagine stopping. As my family knows all too well, I get cranky if I’m away from my computer too long. I’m a coffee drinker, a cat person who loves other people’s dogs, and a wife, mom, and grandmother.


Q:  After reading your books, I find it hard to believe that you're a "California girl" at heart and haven't lived in the south all your life. What draws you to write about the south, particularly Southern Appalachia, an area to which I am drawn?

I’ve spent almost a third of my life near Atlanta now, and it’s just a short drive to the mountains. Many of my ancestors were southerners, including a great-grandmother who was born in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, eighty miles from where I live, so there’s that connection, too. But the biggest draw for me is the way the history, culture, and language of the South create an atmosphere that’s ripe with stories to be told.


Q:  Describe a "perfect trip" on the back of your husband's motorcycle.

A ride in the mountains always recharges my imagination. My favorite time for a ride is in the fall when the leaves are changing. We would start early and be in the mountains in less than an hour. We might ride alongside the Chestatee River for a while, stop for lunch in some little mountain town, and maybe do some window shopping. We might explore some roads we never noticed before and we might even get lost, but we would be home by suppertime and my head would be full of new ideas for the next day of writing.


Q:  Tell us about the novel we are featuring today, A Stillness of Chimes.

This story is near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons, including the way the main character sprang into my imagination years ago with an early version of these opening lines:

Laura Gantt didn’t believe in ghosts, but sometimes she wondered if living across from a graveyard had warped her. Part Irish, all southern, descended from moonshiners and holy rollers, she’d always believed in things she couldn’t see.

Here’s a brief summary of the story:

When her mother dies suddenly, Laura Gantt returns home to rumors that several people think they’ve seen her father Elliott, who has been dead for many years. As Laura’s former beau, Sean, helps her uncover the truth, the secrets seem as vast as the mountains surrounding her Georgia childhood home.


Q:  Describe A Stillness of Chimes in five adjectives.

Oh, no! I never know how to describe my own books. I’ll cheat and swipe some flattering words from a few reviews and endorsements: atmospheric, southern, melodic, magical, compelling.


Q:  I love how your story takes on the issue of PTSD through the character of Elliott Gantt, Laura's father. How did this theme come about and have you received any feedback from readers who were touched by Elliott?

During the Vietnam era, military personnel often received more abuse than honor when they came home, and the ones who experienced PTSD were especially misunderstood and maligned. When I first imagined Elliott, I pictured him as a gentle musician whose soul never healed from the trauma of war. A number of readers have told me that his story helped them make peace with their own losses, but the response that means the most to me came from a friend who served in Vietnam; he told me I nailed it.


Q:  Music has always been important in Appalachia, and you’ve incorporated several kinds in the story. How did you decide which forms of music to include, and do any of the story’s musical elements have special meaning?

Bluegrass came up naturally, given the story’s setting. Laura’s former beau, Sean Halloran, follows in her father’s footsteps as a folk musician and luthier, and the lyrics of a few old folk songs suited the plot perfectly. Because church music is part of the fabric of life in the Appalachians, I also alluded to several hymns with lyrics that hint at the story’s themes. The wind chimes are my special favorite, though. Instead of being played by human hands, they’re played only by the wind, which can symbolize the Holy Spirit.


Q:  You did a great job at infusing spiritual themes in a subtle way, Meg. Why this style, and how do you hope readers will be inspired by reading this story?

Thank you, Carole. I don’t think preaching belongs in a novel. I trust my readers to understand that the spiritual themes are the backbone of the story, not the skin, so they’re not obvious at first glance. I hope A Stillness of Chimes will inspire my readers to see that even the most damaged souls among us can be beautiful reflections of divine love and sacrifice.


Q:  Why is writing important to you; how is it part of your life?

I’m not a natural-born plotter, but maybe that’s a blessing. Because I can’t just whip up a story in a hurry, I spend months getting to know my characters and their issues. Sometimes I feel as if I’m making no progress, but really I’m sorting out my own questions as well as my characters’ questions. In that sense, writing isn’t just part of my life; it helps me make sense of life.


Q:  What story or writing project are you working on now?

I’m muddling my way through a zillion different ideas that are just starting to come together in a viable plot. If I could tell you more than that, I would!


Q:  How can we support, encourage, or pray for you?

That is such a kind question. Please pray that I will be true to the calling that God has given me, and that I will find the stories that I’m meant to write. My biggest encouragement comes from interacting with my readers, who can reach me at megmoseley.com@gmail.com or through the contact form on my website, megmoseley.com. I’m always happy to meet with book groups, either in person or via Skype.

Thank you, Carole, for giving me this opportunity to visit with you and your readers. I appreciate you!

____________________


I am so glad to share Meg's writing with all of our readers! Her two previous books were wonderful as well, and here are the links to their reviews:

Review:  When Sparrows Fall
Review:  Gone South

Meg, I think I speak for all of us when I say how much we've enjoyed having you with us. I pray that God will continue to inspire you with the stories He wants you to write, and please know that you will receive a warm welcome here when you're ready to visit again.


GIVEAWAY

To enter the drawing for A Stillness of Chimes, simply answer ONE of the following questions and leave your e-mail in a safe format. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook.

1) Have you ever visited the Appalachian Mountains? If so, did anything about the area especially appeal to you?

2) If you're familiar with any of the classic hymns, name a favorite or two.

Please "like" my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, if you haven't already. And new followers of this blog are always welcome!

  • Contest ends at midnight PST on Sunday, July 20. No purchase necessary.
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail by Tuesday, July 22. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
  • Eligibility: U.S. and Canadian addresses, 18 or older